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50 Fitness Truths That Will Make You Rethink Your Lifestyle

woman stretchingHere are 50 fitness truths you need to know. These thoughts will change the way you think about your fitness lifestyle.

Fitness Truths

  1. Carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol have 4, 4, 9, and 7 calories per gram respectively.
  2. It takes about a 3500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound.
  3. Insulin and growth hormone have an inverse relationship. You must keep insulin under control if you want growth hormone to do its job of mobilizing fat.
  4. The average person can store 500 grams of glycogen.
  5. Only fat and protein are essential macronutrients – carbohydrates aren’t (but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat them).
  6. Muscle glycogen is about 3 parts water to 1 part glucose. This can add water weight at the beginning of a strength training program.
  7. You burn more calories during the 23 hours you don’t exercise than the 1 hour you do.
  8. You don’t need to do cardio to lose weight. You only need a calorie deficit. But that doesn’t mean isn’t a useful tool.
  9. The fat burning zone does not burn more total fat calories – only a higher percentage of calories from fat. Total calories burned is what matters.
  10. You’re never too old to do squats.
  11. Weight loss is not a physical challenge – it’s a mental one.
  12. The scale cannot measure your body fat. However, this body fat caliper can. Use it.
  13. You can eat anything you want and still lose weight – but weight doesn’t always equal fat.
  14. You can’t target fat loss – fat loss is systemic.
  15. Muscle does not weigh more than fat – it’s just denser than it.
  16. Zero grams of fat on a label doesn’t always mean there’s no fat in the food product. Always check the ingredients.
  17. Whole grain bread can be highly processed – pick one that uses only whole food ingredients.
  18. Eating healthy is not more expensive than a junk food diet, especially once you consider health care costs down the road.
  19. You can’t calculate body fat percentage from height and weight alone – you need to physically measure it.
  20. You can get glucose from both protein and glycerol – not just carbohydrates.
  21. Just because a box says “whole grain” on it, it doesn’t make it healthy.
  22. You should never attempt weight loss at the expense of your health.
  23. Trying to be perfect with your diet sets you up for failure. Strive to make progress by continually creating healthy eating habits.
  24. Workout times and negative side effects are positively correlated. The quality of your workouts is more important than the quantity.
  25. Gym membership prices are usually negotiable. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  26. Cooking your food can both lower some nutrient content, and make some more bio-available.
  27. There’s a high correlation between the fitness level of the people close to you, and your own physical fitness.
  28. It’s harder to put on 10 pounds of muscle than it is to lose 10 pounds of fat.
  29. Once an adult, fat cells can be created, but they cannot be lost – only shrunken. But that doesn’t mean they can’t shrink to close to nothing.
  30. Eating at night does not make you fat – overeating does.
  31. You don’t need to do curls to get good biceps. Heavy rowing movements are excellent arm builders.
  32. Being skinny does not automatically mean you have a low body fat. Body composition is what matters most.
  33. The perimeter of the grocery store is where 90% of the healthy food is.
  34. If bad food is in the house, you’ll be more likely to eat it.
  35. Thyroid hormone output and exercise intensity are positively correlated.
  36. Healthy levels of testosterone are good for both men and women.
  37. You don’t need a gym membership to strength train. Your body weight is all the resistance you need.
  38. Unless you weigh less than 120 pounds, it’s unlikely you need less than 1200 calories to lose weight.
  39. Workout intensity is positively correlated with the degree of EPOC – the afterburn effect. Boost your intensity if you want to burn more fat.
  40. There are 3 types of skeletal muscle fibers – type I, type II-A, and type II-B.
  41. 80% of people who begin an exercise program will quit. About the same goes for people starting a diet.
  42. The body has 3 energy systems – ATP-PC, anaerobic glycolysis, and aerobic.
  43. Strength gains come from muscle hypertrophy and improved muscle fiber recruitment. Include a variety of rep ranges in your workouts.
  44. Dehydrating a muscle by 3% can cause a 10% loss of strength. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  45. The thermic effect of food (TEF) is highest for protein. Up to 30% of its calories are used for digestion and assimilation.
  46. Lactic acid is not the cause of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Lactic acid returns to normal levels within 60 minutes of finishing exercise.
  47. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Muscle tissue eats fat at all hours of the day.
  48. Direct abdominal exercises are not necessary to get good abs. Abs are used as stabilizers when you do squats, deadlifts, and many other exercises. Only a good diet will make them visible.
  49. You can lose weight and still gain muscle; likewise, you can also gain weight while still losing fat.
  50. Consistency and patience are key to long term successful weight loss.
  • gene

    what about lose skin what to do i lost 163lb now have a lot lose skin on the tummy

    • Coach Calorie

      Gene, that question deserves a post of its own. I’m working on that, so stay tuned.

      • Ivette

        Yes, I too would be interested in this topic, and I also have loose skin, well I call it my belly flap lol… I need help there alot!!!

        • Amber

          I can answer the skin problem I am 43 and lost 152 pounds through diet and exercise over the last 2 years and was a smoker as well, I have since now quit that. Losing that much weight you are usually left with skin but like I said lose the weight and then worry about the skin. I had my arms done and recently a full tummy tuck, the results are amazing!!! Never in my life did I think I would have a flat sexy tummy. The key is finding a good surgeon and one that understand the needs of a weight loss patient. How lose your skin is depends on how long were you heavy? How old you are, tanning breaks down collagen in skin, smoking is bad for your skin, so many factors, but the bottom line is i is one more step in the process.

          • laura

            i agree on the tummy tuck process i myself did the same thing after weight loss, was told once you stretch it beyond returning to its natural state then the best option would be to remove all the stretched skin. REcovery is actual very easy as long as you do what is told to you by the surgeon, there job is to make you look and feel great, and they really can do that. congrads on the weight loss I wish you all the sucess in your next venture to transform your body to what you feel is what you want , not what others think and want….cheers….

    • Brandon Adams

      Try lifting weights in the 1-3 rep range. That is the rep range that gives your muscles density with zero potential for growth. Could really help to tighten skin. And then maybe after 2-3 months. start lifting for growth in the 8-10 rep range. if your body fat is low enough your skin will kind of do a shrink wrap effect around your growing muscles. That happens because you reduced your body fat and excess muscle mass low enough to where your body adjusted and shrunk along with the fat loss. So when you finally do start lifting for growth again it kind of tightens things up. Its just a thought. You may have tried something like this already.

    • sandi

      yea, I would like an answer to that too other than surgery….I dont have have alot, but I would like to tighten the skin right above my belly button….

    • John Kelly

      For loose skin – research the effects of Gotu Kola. It works very well.

      Also you can target Fat loss from specific areas – research the effects of BioSignature modulation.

  • Robert

    Some interesting tips here Tony!
    Especially #41 on the number of people not sticking with exercise.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Coach Calorie

      Thanks Robert. It’s unfortunate but true.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for this! It was so useful, especcially number 7, I never knew that! I always had the mentality that if I worked harder I burned more calories.

    • Coach Calorie

      It’s the reason why I saw that the calories you burn during exercise are “meaningless”. They obviously aren’t meaningless, but they are just a fraction of the calories you burn the rest of the day.

  • Lynn

    Number 11 sums me right up….A constant mental battle that i really wish I could overcome!

    • Coach Calorie

      Yep, most people don’t think about it like that. Sure, physical exercise is hard and is a challenge, but the mental part of losing weight is where the real struggle takes place. Not eating bad food when your mind is telling you to. Getting up and exercising when you just want to sleep a little longer. The mental challenges are difficult to overcome.

      • Nick

        Interesting answer. Like it :-)

  • Sagar

    You dont need a calorie deficit to lose fat

    • Coach Calorie

      Thanks for the catch Sagar. I made the appropriate change.

      • Lisa

        Great site and great points! I do however have an issue with #2 and the whole counting calories thing. Turns out a calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. “”All calories is not created equal!!”
        There is a second law of Thermodynamics. Our bodies metabolize them differently. One Twinkie calorie does not equal one protein calorie for example. Here are two studies addressing this issue or you may reference Dr Lustig or Gary Taubes.

        • Coach Calorie

          Hi Lisa, thank you for the comment and citing those studies. I have actually read those before. I agree with you in principle that not all calories are created equal, and based on my own experience, I have noticed differences in weight loss through different macronutrient compositions.

          Perhaps we can agree that even though all calories might not be created equal, you still need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight – regardless of where those calories come from.

  • Mary Mangan

    I am a 56 year old women that decided to start exercising about 6 months ago and I love it! #10 is so true I now in my routine do 2 sets of 20 squats and love it. Since August of 2011 have lost 26 pounds and feel the best I have felt in years. I now find my body is totaly out of whack if I wake up late and do not have time to do my exercises. I am doing it for me so I have better balance and move better. As far as calorie intake daily I have no idea what it is, I know that I watch what I eat and try to eat as healthy as possible, but if I am craving that one piece of cake I will eat it.
    Thanks for the list I love it.

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      Hello -have been working weights at the Gym for three years now and things are going very well
      my belt notch is way down I have broadened out and over all I look pretty good.BUT my weight has increased by at least 8 pds ,I am very careful with my eating -is this muscle that I have put on or something else?

      • Coach Calorie

        William, if your waist has gotten smaller, but your weight has gone up and you’ve gotten stronger, you have no doubt put on muscle. Whether that 8 pounds is all muscle or if there was some fat mixed in is impossible to tell without doing a bodyfat test.

        • WILLIAM

          Many thanks indeed -will have my gym do a proper body fat evaluation for me and post the results.

  • Aaron

    Some of these are great, but the few major flaws make it invalid. First off, #5. Carbohydrates are not a macronutrient? Since when? You absolutely need carbohydrates to live. Your brain runs off carbohydrates. Putting something so untrue out there is bad. It will make people eat more fat and protein than carbohydrates. High fat and protein diets are the standard american diet that is killing us all. Carbohydrates=fruits/veggies. #18 Eating healthy has proven to be more expensive than “cr%ppy food”. That’s actually why a lot of low-income individuals are obese. They eat processed food that is cheap but high in fat and high GI carbs. This doesn’t fulfill the needs of your body so you are always hungry. When my wife and I weren’t vegetarians, we could go to Wal-Mart and spend $40 dollars on food to last BOTH of us for a whole week and a little more. Now, we spend upwards of $80-$100 at Sprouts on fruits, veggies, nuts, flax seed, rolled oats, yogurt etc. And that sometimes barely lasts a week.

    • Coach Calorie

      Aaron, carbohydrates are a macronutrient. I never said otherwise. I said they were not an ESSENTIAL macronutrient. And no, you do not need carbohydrates to live – you need glucose. Sure, glucose comes from carbohydrates, but it can also come from protein and fat.

      A high fat, high protein diet is not the standard American diet – high processed carbohydrates, high fat, and low protein is.

      Fruits and vegetables are healthy – I never said otherwise.

      Eating healthy certainly does not have to be more expensive than a highly processed diet. Eating all organic food is one thing – that will be more expensive. But to go from eating packaged processed foods to whole foods is not more expensive. A package of processed fruit sticks for the kids are $4. A bag of apples is the same or less. Flavored Quacker oatmeal in individual packages costs more than whole rolled oats. A frozen pizza costs $5, but ground beef or chicken can be $2-3/ pound. I could go on and on. Processed foods are man made products that take whole food ingredients and then add more ingredients. Why would a processed food cost less than the sum of its parts?

    • Sarah

      work it out.. you buy a burger fries and coke.. for $6. these foods for the same amount cost a lot less. I know since our household became healthy eaters, we are seeing the benefits not only in us, but our bank account too.

  • Manu

    Do you have any tips for breast feeding mothers? Everyone seems to ignore me when I ask this? I put on 30kg while pregnant lost 20 now the the last 10 is the hardest to shift :(

    • Coach Calorie

      What kind of tips are you looking for Manu? Weight loss? Health tips?

      You want to make sure your nutrition provides all the essential nutrients to feed your child. Severe calorie restriction should be avoided. Make sure you are eating plenty of fat and getting in enough essential fatty acids. Keep your diet clean, avoid processed foods, continue exercising, and you should have no problems staying fit.

    • candice

      I lost 10 lbs while I was pregnant with my first son (I gained baby weight, but left the hospital 10lbs lighter than what I was when I found out I was pregnant) I went on to maintain that weight for a while and then lost another 30 in a 3 month span. All I did was eat super clean foods. When I was hungry I ate and when I wasn’t hungry I didn’t. I wasn’t excessively active but I did walk everywhere I needed to go…the grocery store was a trip I made every few days which was 5 mins away. Losing the last 10 is definitely a mental shift more than anything. Just remember that even just one little chocolate bar WILL add up, and very quickly at that. Take a 300 calorie chocolate bar for example. You won’t feel full and you haven’t fed your body any of the nutrients it actually needs to function properly. Also, keep in mind that for the same 300 calories, you can have an 8oz chicken breast, 1/3 cup of brown rice and a couple servings of veggies. Just remember that while you shouldn’t be putting yourself on any diet that gives you a huge calorie deficite you only need an extra 500 calories a day while you’re pregnant (that’s a sandwich) and even less than that while breast feeding. Also if you’re cutting out junk food and replacing it with whole clean unprocessed foods you will (probably) lower your calorie intake and increase your nutrient intake anyway… I’m not sure how clean you’re eating right now I’m sort of basing this on a “typical” north american diet. I’m sorry this was so long winded, but I hope it helps

    • Karen

      I recommend patience. For some women, breastfeeding absolutely just pulls the weight off of them but that is not so in every case. I held on to that last 10lbs until I stopped, or really he cut down drastically. Background,I eat super clean vegetarian almost vegan and I am training for a marathon with cross training and strength training and lots of yoga. But still, my body seemed to need to hold on to it. But it isn’t a big deal. Bf’ing is super important and it is only for a time in your life, you know? Then the weight should go.

  • Sneha

    #8You don’t need cardio to lose weight??? please justify.

    • Coach Calorie

      Sneha, it just so happens that today’s article is about that subject. Hopefully it answers you question – Is Cardio Necessary to Lose Weight

      Let me answer your question with a couple questions:

      1 – What do you think is special about cardio that makes it necessary to lose weight?

      2 – Do you think that everyone who has lost weight in their life has done cardio to get there? Keep in mind that trying to get fit is not the only time people lose weight.

  • Jolie

    What a fantastic article! I couldn’t stop clicking on all of the other external links and learning more about the Glycemic Index and Growth Hormones! I am on week four of Insanity, and I can see results now with the high intensity work outs :) I’m going to try eating more protein and fats though and keep away from the high index carbs.

    Again, thank you for the tips!

    • Coach Calorie

      Glad you liked all the articles Jolie, and congrats on seeing results.

  • Tracy

    Can you elaborate on “You don’t need to do curls to get good biceps.”?

    • Coach Calorie

      You can work your biceps by doing heavy compound movements like rows and pullups. Curls are just another one joint isolation exercise like leg extensions. Do you think you have to do leg extensions to get good quads? Or do you think squats could provide the same or better muscle growth?

      • Tracy

        hmmmm… I teach a muscle conditioning class at my gym. So, I don’t think the pull-ups would be viable (only because we don’t have bars in the studio). But thanks for the suggestions, I will definitely use them myself. :-)

        • Diana

          While I’m no expert… I rarely do curls for my arms, most of my “arm” work is done through pull ups, lat pulldowns (varying hand placements will engage biceps more), and just generally more of the heavy back work.

  • Roxette

    It says a lot about what is not but I’d like to know what is. For example, #48, what should we do then for good abs?

    • Coach Calorie

      Roxette, your abs are a function of your diet. We all have abs, but most of us can’t see them because there is a layer of fat covering them. If you want abs, you need to get rid of the fat. No exercise is going to do this. Only a good diet will get you there. You might want to look here – How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Month

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  • Sarah

    I’ve lost a huge amount of weight, and no matter how much I do, the loose skin will not go. I have been advised I will need plastic surgery to remove it from arms, thighs, stomach, back and to lift my boobs. That’s made me feel ten times worse than being so fat! How has it made you feel?

    • Coach Calorie

      Sarah, I’m sorry your loose skin is bothering you. I’m not sure if your comment was directed at me, but I’ve never had to lose a lot of weight, so I never had the same problems.

      I will say that your skin can be improved quite a bit more than you think through further body fat reduction. Keep at it and you might reach a point where you’re happy.

      • Sarah

        I’m still working out and doing a lot of muscle work.. now at 31% muscle. still want to keep going. Just never seems enough, but I have to admit to still wearing giant sized clothes just to hide sagging skin. But your tips have helped enormously. Cheers

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  • http://facebook Eva-Maria Mull

    Coach, how can I increase my weight loss and loosing inches at the typical female trouble zones like thighs, butt and hips…. I am 52 years old and had a serious hipflexor injury doing Zumba (my passion).. haven’t been able to exercise in 6 weeks and need to get back in shape. I currently weight 155 lbs and want to get to 145 lbs… I am 5.5 1/2″…… help please, I needs some serious fitness advice…
    Thanks Eva

    • Coach Calorie

      You can’t spot reduce fat. Fat loss is systemic. If you want to lose fat from those areas, you will have to lose it from all over your body. Remember, you didn’t get to choose where you put it on, you don’t get to choose where it comes off.

      Focus on your diet while you are recovering. Try to do some exercise if you’ve been cleared to. It will come off. Be patient.

      • stef

        I have heard from others who have lost a lot of weight and are now at their target that it can take 6mths to a year for your body fat to redistribute once you have reached target and start maintaining your loss. In other words, what you look like once you reach your target may include too-thin legs and a gaunt face and you may have a little fat in other areas where you would rather it wasn’t, but it will all redistribute over time to give you the appearance you are supposed to have.

  • Heidi Jenkins

    Consistency and patience has been placed at the bottom of the page but I must say that it is one of the important points to observe. You may be doing everything right, eating right, but if you are inconsistent on how you carry out your exercises they you might not get the desired results.

  • melinda

    great info! calories in vs. calories out. simple simple. if you’d like, you could eat 3 snickers a day and lose weight. if thats all you ate. not nutritious but its about the calories. not when you eat them. this is a great article ESPECIALLY for the general population that believes what they hear and are generally uneducated in nutrition. eat less. move around more!

  • Steph

    Hey coach, I love reading the tips you post. #35 stood out for me. So is it the more intense my workout, the higher the thyroxin output? I’ve recently recovered from a hyperactive thyroid and slowly been able to pick up the intensity in the last few months. I don’t want to go over with my thyroid. The weight loss was great, but everything else was a nightmare.

    • Coach Calorie

      TSH and intensity levels correlated. High TSH levels signal a release for more T3. I’m not convinced you can cause a hyperactive thyroid through exercise alone though. That’s something you’ll need to monitor with your doctor.

      • Steph

        Thanks. I’m not convinced a hyperactive thyroid is caused by exercise alone either, but I thought I’d ask in regards to the point you made earlier. What’s the difference between T3 and T4? I know one converts to the other. And TSH stimulates thyroid hormone production. I’ve had regular thyroid blood tests since the beginning of the year.

  • Alan

    Some great points, although I think some could be expanded somewhat. e.g. #46 If Lactic acid is not the cause of DOMs, then what is?
    More for a curiosity of mine, as I can remember this being told to me at High School and have always believed it without doing any research myself.

  • Lacey

    I eat less than 1000kcal a day and always the same thing:
    Ready Brek and Honey for Breaky
    Tuna and low fat salad cream for lunch
    Chicken Slices, salad and boiled egg whites for dinner
    I am a waitress/ chef so I am on my feet all day running round ang go to the gym about 4 times a week but can’t lose weight. Any thoughts?
    (I don’t pick at food between my 3 meals either)

    • Coach Calorie

      Lacey, don’t be afraid to eat. 1000 calories is not nearly enough food to provide your body with the required nutrition it needs. Focus more on the quality of your calories instead of the quantity.

    • Sarah

      I agree 1000 is not enough. I was sticking to 1200 per day, and when i got a trainer, he worked out i needed 1450! then the weight started falling off. I don’t know why, but it worked, Lacey. It all depends on what workouts, how intense, and what activity you do in a day as well. good luck.

    • Becky

      Start EATING. Don’t Starve and store!! EAT! You’re body isn’t getting proper nutrition and is storing the little food it is getting. Protein! Green Vegs! Lots of it!

  • Sarah

    Okay, another question. If you workout almost every day of a month (miss one or two), on those days you miss, is it true your muscles are still working and will not weaken?

    • Coach Calorie

      Missing 2 days of workouts out of 30 will not do a thing but help you. You need rest to fully recuperate. Strength decreases start taking affect after a couple weeks of non-use.

  • Becky

    Great tips here! Can’t wait to get started!!

  • angie mace

    I’m 56yrs old have joint problems i have lost a considerable amount of weight ie almost 140 pounds i need to know some exercises to help reduce my legs size unfortunately squats are not an option as i have arthritis in lower back and knee and wrist joints i have to use a walking stick i have a lot of loose skin on stomach area and surgery is not an option as i have had 4 strokes i can do sit ups with the ab trainer equipment that i own

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Angie, first off, you need to be cleared to start an exercise program. If you are, I can make some suggestions. Be reduce leg size I’m assuming you mean fat? As you may or may not know, there is no such thing as spot reducing fat.

      While not ideal, leg extensions and curls can work for your legs as you build up strength. In time, you might be able to move on to more compound movements. The biggest factor for reducing your leg size is going to be your nutrition. Keep a close eye on it.

    • Karla Petersen

      May I also suggest HYDROTHERAPY, as in water aerobics or warm water Pilates, to name a couple. Water displaces weights, allowing for greater, more fluid movements, and provides resistance, allowing you to gain strength. I agree with Tony Schober, aim for overall (holistic) fitness, considering ALL OF YOU (sleeping, eating, thinking, friends, habits, etc.), as you continue…

  • Jeanette Perez

    Great Fantstic.

  • Theresa Cantrell

    I love your website!

  • Karen

    #24 is a bit confusing to me? I thought as long as you get in the proper rest the time of your work-out doesn’t matter?

    • Coach Calorie

      Rest goes a long way towards proper recovery, but as workout times increase, so do the negative side effects (hormones, injury, etc).

      • Karen

        Aww, makes sense. Thank you so much. You are the BEST :)

      • disqus_eslqC70Xbi

        Aww yes. I found that out after having my second child at 38. I was working out like a fiend and ended up being diagnosed with arthritis in my hips. I was advised to slow it way down. I’ve found that my hips still bother me if I overdo it. And, it takes longer to heal at 55 than at 25. Yes, I survived and my son is now 16.

  • Tina M

    Can you explain what you meant in #35? I am hypothyroid and taking T3 replacement meds.

    • Tony Schober

      It means that as exercise intensity rises, so does TSH, which signals a release of T3. You can click on the link in that section for more info. This is not a substitution for thyroid disease, however.

  • courtney

    So why then, when I don’t change my diet, do I gain weight…. only a food deficit equals weight loss for me and I exercise at least 5x ‘ s a week rotating cardio and strength training…

    • Tony Schober

      Because you’re eating in a calorie surplus.